Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sugarcoat Sunday no. 5
This is a story of an 18-year old girl who gave up medical
school to pursue a different dream.
Mathai was a part of the blind auditions in The
Voice season 2, even though she's far from being an experienced singer. Actually, she was on her way
to becoming a nurse and, most probably, continue studying to become a doctor
like her parents. Given that already very promising path, she made a different
turn and laid all her current plans on the line.
This is what happens when you follow your heart. You reach your dreams, you make a god like Adam Levine say, ‘I love you’
and you make a crazy, frustrated singer stare at this:
..while belting out like she's in the shower! *Sorry to those who were too unfortunate to have heard me sing.*
I found her story inspiring. I hope you do, too! :)
I am a very lucky girl. This does not apply to raffles,
lotto and gambling, unfortunately. Although, I won three years in a row in our
firm’s Christmas party raffle, so you can say I’m pretty lucky in those stuff, too
I am lucky. By that I mean, in life’s most crucial
lotteries, I got the winning tickets right in the palm of my hands.
Unbelievably loving parents: check!
Amazing sets of friends: check!
An extremely patient, understanding, secure, not to mention
too much of a spoiler, boyfriend: check!
All of the above words sound sugarcoated. Life couldn’t be
that perfect, yes. There are also days I forget how fortunate I am to have been
blessed with these people, especially when life hits me hard. But during the
ups and, most importantly, the ordinary days, I can look at my life from an
outsider’s point of view and feel genuinely grateful for every single IMPORTANT
character in my life story. I emphasized ‘important’ because I’ve also met a
handful of mean, conceited people but never fully allowed them in.
Currently, I am buried deep under a tower of adult decisions
I have to make. Hours are spent on useless worrying, instead of being carefree.
I don’t have a clue about how certain things will unravel for me this year and
I’m the biggest scardey-cat when it comes to uncertainty. I am in a state you
can call anything but steady. But despite life’s mysteries I am yet to solve, I’m
sure about something:
I am with the very people I’m meant to face this unexplainable,
sometimes funny, sometimes cruel, borderline sunny/rainy adventure we call
I can’t thank the heavens enough for bringing every soul
into my journey. Thank you, lucky stars!
And thank You, of course.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Sugarcoat Sunday no. 4
I am still on cloud 9.
It's the boy's birthday and I am clinging on to my mental picture of how genuinely happy he looked today.
The happiness that making him happy brings sure is enough to motivate me to leave the bed early tomorrow and hum love songs on the way to work. But.... sprinkling more heart-shaped candies over this sweet, sweet day wouldn't hurt. :)
Girls and boys, sharing with you a song that is sure to melt your heart.
by Susie Suh
I just wanna love you when the going's tough
I just wanna hold you when you're not enough
I just wanna give you everything I got
I do, I do
I just wanna fold you up into my arms
I just wanna listen to your beating heart
I just wanna love you just because I do
I do, I do
Listening to this makes me daydream of my wedding dance. SOMEDAY.
If you have no picture to associate with every YOU in this song just yet, I tell you, it is worth aspiring for.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Solidarity in Silence
|Karis- Holy Week Silent Retreat, 2012|
"If there was anything
to be gained from this whole experience, it is learning how to live and enjoy
basking in the warmest
company of your own person, and your God more so.
And savoring the
experience for all its worth.
This journey was not
only about the number silent stares of chat shared with few co-retreatants, or
personal self-videos recorded just for divert.
It wasn’t just about
the many firsts achieved - personally or collectively as a silent
Rather, it was the
whole idea of sharing and solidarity… in the most unusual of silences that makes
this trip a memorable one for keep”.
I don't know their stories but these people feel like family.
Sending high fives to heaven for these wonderful souls. :)
Monday, April 9, 2012
Karis: A Grace-filled Experience
Call it a quarter-life crisis or just another wake up call,
but for the past few months, I tend to beat myself up for being passive
faith. I belong in a family that goes to church every Sunday morning and prays
the rosary every Sunday night, I went to Catholic schools all my life,
and I have always been sure of my beliefs. I recognize that religion, although
not perfect, is important in guiding one’s faith. I believe in the Church, in priests being disciples of Jesus, in practicing religious traditions.
I BELIEVE. No amount of doubt whatsoever. But I was craving
for the emotional depth that should go hand in hand with this thing we call
faith. Like how we say it in Filipino, ‘tagos sa puso’. That, that was what I
was craving for.
In time for this year’s Lenten season, I was hoping to do
something that could help me in my dilemma. Attending a retreat was my first
option. After a quick search in Google, I chanced upon a silent retreat in
Tagaytay. I knew that I didn’t want to attend a usual retreat like the ones we
had in school. Those were too preachy for me and I might not be interested in
their chosen topics. So the silent retreat, being individually directed, seemed
to be the best choice. I signed up knowing there wouldn’t be any “talks” from
priests/lecturers, but I didn’t realize there would be no “talks”, AT ALL.
It was a SILENT RETREAT, as clearly stated in the invitation. But aren’t all retreats supposed to
be a silent, solemn experience? And I have attended retreats before, so I got
I thought wrong.
Upon arriving Wednesday night at Karis Retreat House,
we were briefed that a silent retreat demands TOTAL SILENCE. We were not
allowed to talk, not even look each other in the eyes. We are encouraged to bow
our heads while walking to avoid eye contact and unintended conversations. Any
important concern, we could write on a huge whiteboard placed in the middle of
our common area. On the other hand, there were no rules regarding personal things. We were all adults,
anyway. Any thing/gadget we think could help us make the experience meaningful was allowed.
The only part of the day, aside from the mass, when we’re
allowed to talk was during individual consultations. It was an individually-directed Ignatian retreat. There were 2
priests and 4 brothers- all Jesuits. 4 retreatants were assigned to each. So
throughout the journey, we had been very well-guided by our respective retreat directors. Aside from our specific schedules, we could also approach them anytime during the day, depending upon their availability.
Initially, I thought we would be given a daily schedule, like something that will guide us on an hourly basis. It turned out, we only had a
schedule for the consultation and the mass. Other than those, we were left to decide
what to do with our time. More than not talking, this was the part where I
struggled. I am used to planning my day, in being able to predict, even roughly,
what I needed to get done. There, all they told us was to spend our time doing one of three things: praying, reading the Bible and resting. That was it.
There was a feeling of discomfort in my system. I wasn't used to what was required of me. I felt agitated. But I really wanted
this experience to be meaningful. So after having my breakfast, alone, without
uttering a single word, I fully surrendered myself.
The key to being able to reflect and pray properly was to
find the most comfortable place. Let me show you where I spent the longest days
of my life:
1. Rocking Chair
This was my favorite spot for contemplating. I filled an
entire notebook while staying there. I learned so many things about myself,
mostly flaws, and my faith, mostly inadequacies. It was like having a no-holds-barred interview with myself. All issues I decided to bury, all inner conflicts I ignored, they all came crashing to me and I welcomed them with an open heart.
2. Prayer Room
The prayer room had mats, instead of wooden benches, to allow us to
be in our most comfortable position. This was my sacred place for praying, for
opening up myself to God, for letting Him know what I realized and felt while contemplating,
for lifting up my concerns. Almost all of my most touching moments happened in
that ordinary looking space. There was even a time I felt too tired, while
praying, that I had fallen asleep right there. It was funny I remember telling Him, 'Lord, pagod na talaga ko. Matutulog lang ako sa sandali. Wait lang po.' Opening up yourself, a lot of
times a day, can sure be draining.
Sometimes, while contemplating, I get this heavy feeling
that was impossible to contain inside. Since I wasn’t allowed to speak, I released
these emotions by walking. We were allowed to roam outside the vicinity, as long as we leave a note in the whiteboard. The serene view helped a lot in walking- off negative emotions.
The entire experience was overwhelming and, for most parts, far too
personal to share in detail. My self-discoveries, especially my consultations with my retreat director, I don't think I will be able to share with anyone in its entirety. There are chunks I would forever keep in my heart.
After 4 days, this sums up the part of my takeaways I am very much willing to share:
When we were younger we learned that God is present
everywhere: in the streets, inside our rooms, in schools, etc. One doesn’t have
to be inside a church to feel His presence. Although this is a very positive
message, it also has a downside. This made us regard praying as an effortless act. We
make the sign of the cross, utter a few words, spend a couple of minutes and
that was it. That’s our formula. I must admit I’m guilty of doing this my whole
life. I wanted to hear God but I never gave him the chance to talk to me. I never fully
opened up my heart to Him.
Four days of total silence and a heart in complete surrender
made me realize that although God can be found anywhere, I can only find Him,
if I do so with all of my heart. It was only in this retreat where I learned
how to talk WITH Him, and not just talk TO Him. It is impossible to describe it clearly, but there were moments while praying that I felt like I heard Him.
Remember the scene in Eat, Pray, Love where Liz was in the bathroom, praying helplessly
and then she heard her own voice commanding her to go back to bed? It was a lot like that. It was still my own voice but I knew the words weren’t from me because
I didn’t like what I heard. Those words were the last thing I wanted to do, or
the last thing I wanted to admit to myself. Sometimes, I also get His message during
the individual consultation. It was as if He knew exactly what I needed to
hear. God is just, indeed, amazing.
All my life I thought I knew Him. This journey made me realize we were sort of
in a long distance relationship. We had one, but it was lacking an intimate
connection. My faith had been a leap in the dark. It was like running with my eyes closed, fully trusting there will always be solid ground to step on. But faith shouldn’t
be like that; my relationship with Him shouldn't be like that. I have to know
Him, feel Him and develop faith that is grounded on certainty. You cannot
love a person you don’t know. And the very foundation of faith is love.
In the ordinariness of silence, I found something
I found *points up*.
|Karis is grace in Greek. :)|
This place is forever etched in my memory.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Rejoice- I don’t think I've ever used this word in a normal
conversation. Actually, I think I don't use this word, at all. Well,
maybe with the exception of using it to refer to a brand of shampoo, which isn't the same thing as using it for what it truly means.
Until I experienced my very first spiritual encounter with
Yeah, yeah, sounds all “holy”. I am not one of those people
riding on the Easter wave, trying to sound pure and religious. To be
honest, I have never felt more flawed in my life. At the same time, I have
never felt more loved and accepted, and, as a result, happier despite obvious
I am fresh out of a 4-day silent retreat. I am still in the
process of trying to slice this one big piece of juicy lemon so I can squeeze
the wedges exhaustively. It doesn’t even end there. I still have to
measure how much of the juice I am willing to share. But at this point, I
couldn’t forget about the word ‘rejoice’, so I'll share a tiny piece of the retreat from there.
If you look it up in the dictionary, it means to feel joyful
or delighted. Very simple and straightforward. But our generation seems to
consider this word archaic, too old school to be used. But in my moments of
deep prayer, moments when I felt His presence, it was the only word I found
fitting to describe the experience.
Four days of complete silence, hours of praying and
meditation, precious minutes of individual consultation with very understanding
and honest Jesuit brothers- I didn’t like everything I discovered about myself; I don’t agree with some of the messages He sent me. In fact, right now, I still have this small
amount of reservation in my heart regarding His will. But this is how I know
that it was Him guiding me throughout. Had it only been myself in those prayers, I
wouldn’t have realized my deepest fears and flaws. Had I been alone in this
journey, I would have knelt down all day and begged for my own selfish will. It is easier to bury
inner conflicts and forget about a higher purpose. But He has his ways of
sending His message. And He sends it with a lot of love.
|Last morning in Karis. :)|
I felt Him, and my heart rejoiced in His slightest touch. Nothing can take that away from me.
Happy Easter, everyone! Rejoice in His goodness. :))
Sunday, April 1, 2012
A Window to Our Friendship
a.k.a. Ang mga Magkukumare sa Bintana
I love these girls to bits! :))
Sugarcoat Sunday no. 3
Simple and effective.
Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Week ahead!
A writer. Who? Me?
Receiving compliments about my writing has always been
awkward. I never know how to respond. A ‘thank you’ sounds too forward; dismissing
it seems hypocritical. Most of the time, I move swiftly to another topic and
avoid any chance of this blog ever being brought up.
I already wrote about my dream of being a lawyer. I
shamelessly wrote about my goal of becoming a partner of a firm. Both are now
safely locked into the ‘not for me’ dreams chest. But about becoming a writer?
No, I don’t think I ever admitted that.
Being a writer has always been a distant ambition. I
graduated with a degree that is too technical we are required to pass a
government exam before practicing it. I belong in a field that mainly requires
the use of intellect and logic, and religiously abiding by the rules. No offense
to my colleagues but, sometimes, it can get really boring.
Writing saves me from the humdrum of everyday grind.
I don’t know if this is worth a space in the vast and
judging place that is the world wide web, but I am making it known now:
I want to be a
writer. I want to write something worth reading. I want to collect words, tie
them in a string and put it around everyone’s wrists, so they can feel me with
every beat of their pulse.
I want to be a writer. Not necessarily a celebrated one. I just
want to write and create and pour my heart out and let words drip out of my
fingertips. And when someone calls me a writer, not even compliment me but just
label me with that word, I don’t want to shy away.
Yes, that last one; I would love that.
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